The D300 Log

I was behind the Bruce front desk, with my back to the Bowling Alley and my nose buried in the building’s maintenance log. I finished up my work for the evening and closed the log. Turning around, I was taken aback by the steady stream of people walking left past the desk and up the front stairwell. I checked the time. Because it was late enough in the evening that no programs should be in progress, I walked outside to check out the scene.

Stepping into the front stairwell, I looked up and saw these people were walking up to the second floor.

I stepped out of the stairwell onto the D300 wing. The line of people stretched as far as I could see. I asked the nearest person, “What’s going on up here?” His response was to look at me and snicker at some joke I wasn’t yet privy to.

I eventually traced it to the community bath located at the center of the hallway.

At the door of the bath was Aaron, the D300 RA. In his hand was a can full of change. He was charging admission for people to enter the bathroom.

The residents at the front of the line recognized me as the Assistant Hall Director and began to get nervous, like kids whose dads have shown up to shutdown their delinquent behavior.

“Alright, what’s going on, Aaron?”

He waved the can in front of me, jingling the change in a clear communication that I was also expected to pay admission. He smiled sheepishly and said with his voice rising, “Umm, 10 cents?”

I glanced at him without saying a word. Then I stepped past him into the bathroom.

Bruce Hall community baths were ancient yet simple in design. In the center of the room were two sinks, flanked on the right by five shower stalls and on the left by an equal number of toilets. Whenver I stepped foot in there, I always recalculated the amount of my life wasted in that room when I was the D300 RA myself. I even thought about my favorite graffiti, which was written in Stall #2. Scrawled low on the left stall wall and written partially upside-down, you would have to sit on the pot, lean over as far as you could, then crank your head to read the simple words, “You are now shitting at a 45 degree angle.”

The bath was empty except for one person standing up in the far left toilet stall. The stall door was open, but the man standing in there wasn’t going #1. Instead, he was giggling. He popped out of the stall, and whatever smile he had disappered when he came face-to-face with me, his AHD. I told him not to worry, that I was just checking things out. He smiled and giggled, then slinked out of the room.

I entered the last stall and saw before me the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen.

Its circumference compared favorably to my upper arm. It stuck up out of the water, even to the edge of the toilet seat. Measuring its total length was problematic, since the other end snaked to some unknown distance down the hole, like a ghost shit that tore open the fabric of space/time.

Seriously, you should have seen this fucker! It still haunts my dreams.

Whoever did this must have turned themselves inside out, like “Screamers”. There should have been a trail of blood leading somewhere, but no clues were found. Analysis of the most-recent cafeteria menu was discussed amongst the crowd, but no one could correlate anything served with the end product before us. The next several days were spent keeping an eye on the Bruce Hall population, to see if any strange hospital admissions or obituaries were sighted.

The money that Aaron collected, he spent on a pizza party for his guys, the consumption of which probably contributed to Son of D300 Log at some point 36-72 hours later.

King of the Cafeteria

Rebel Alliance Flag

Last March, I had breakfast with an old friend. While our conversation rambled, we got onto the subject of our college lives and realized we’d both been resident assistants (RAs) at one point. Somehow, I got around to telling the following story.

All RAs at the University of North Texas were encouraged to customize their wings with a theme and related decorations. My wing (D300) at Bruce Hall was all freshman boys, and because all freshmen were required to live on-campus, some were there against their wishes.

At the time (1995) I was a massive Star Wars fan. So it was natural to dub the wing “The Rebel Alliance“, a name that has mostly stuck since then.

Bruce Hall was also home to the cafeteria that served itself, plus the McConnell Hall and College Inn dorms. Strangely enough, a majority of the cafeteria’s student staff ended up being my residents — serving food, cleaning dishes, busing tables, etc.

Whenever they saw me, they’d stop the serving line so they could fetch me fresh, piping hot servings directly from the kitchen. Say I was sitting at the table for breakfast and I finished off my bowl of Golden Grahams, one of them might come by & refill my bowl. And one year, they declared an “International Hairnet Day” and crowned me King of the Cafeteria.

So the ongoing joke was that I, Matthew McGarity, controlled the food supply for half the on-campus population, and that people had to be really nice to me lest I cut them off. In other words, I was the fucking Godfather.

After today’s breakfast, I went to work at my company’s satellite office. My co-worker Chuck provided me with a helpful printout showing the data model for the application we both utilize. “You can make a copy, if you want, or you can try to scan it,” he said. At this particular office, the scanner was a 3-in-1 printer/fax/scanner machine that was limited in functionality — it could scan to a USB drive, or it could output to your computer, but only if you had a particular client installed on your PC.

Either way, the install process was kludgy enough that Chuck was the only person in the office who bothered to install the PC client. So when people need to scan items, instead of installing the software, they’d just get him to do it.

So Chuck is to office scanning what I was to the Bruce Hall food supply.

Hail King Chuck!

Simon Ennis and his Big Stupid Guitar

Simon Ennis and His Big Stupid Guitar

Love is just the new natural selection…!

Simon Ennis was a cool cat, solely responsible for my enduring nickname, “The Worst R.A. in Bruce Hall.” Whenever I watch Gilligan’s Island or ponder the mental state of squirrels, I think of him.

While an R.A. at Bruce Hall, he took up a side career as an busking acoustic musician. His one-man act, Simon Ennis and his Big Stupid Guitar, was pretty popular with the geeks of Bruce. They’ve craved to hear some of his old recordings. Lucky for them I’m a pack-rat.

Below are MP3 recordings from my original casette tape. Because of the original medium, the sound will be a bit tinny, but if you are true fan you can fight through it:
Natural Selection
My Green Shirt
Safe Suburban Home
Six Million Dollar Woman
Your Mother’s Gonna Miss Me
State Employee
Male Homosexuality
Kurt Cobain in a Coma
Sleeping Pill
My Lost Cat

It’s quite remarkable I even have this tape. A friend of mine had been borrowing it, and his apartment burned down. This tape was in a box, which itself was within an armoire — that double-seal is the only thing that kept it from being nuked.

While I have these recordings, I don’t have the track names. If anyone is able to help me reconstruct them, just let me know in the comments below.

I tried to find Simon, so I might confirm it’s OK to share these files, but he’s proven quite elusive. After leaving Bruce, Simon eventually moved to the Davis/Sacramento area for his doctorate. During his time there, he continued to record with a band called St. Simon 3 (as noted here and here). Hopefully it’s OK, but don’t be surprised if I’m asked to take these down.

To paraphrase St. Simon: I don’t care what they say about you, Simon — I think you’re awesome. And you smell just fine!

Photo Credit: Kacey Close on Facebook

The Dr Pepper Liberation Front

Dr Pepper PosterBack during my Bruce Hall years, the University of North Texas was undergoing several growth spurts, the most-prominent of which was the football program’s jump to Division IA (now known as Division I).

As part of that push, UNT redid their logos and colors in an attempt to rebuild the football team’s brand. They also signed several licensing deals, including with Coca-Cola. One day as a result, all of the Dr Pepper vending machines were replaced with brand-new machines painted green & white — and serving only Coca-Cola products.

This could not be allowed to stand. So me, myself, and I formed the Dr. Pepper Liberation Front, with an eye at calling out tyranny that Coca-Cola brought upon the oppressed soft drink of Texas. Below was our opening salvo printed in the campus newspaper.

January 21, 1997

DENTON, TX 76203

Welcome, purveyor of liquid shame!

WeYe delighted to have you as a partner of the Southern travesty that is the Coca-Cola Partnership Program. The central goal of the Partnership Program is to make your residents sad, depressed and digestively-irregular — by the distribution of a soft-drink that can only dream of being as popular as Dr. Pepper — Coca-Cola.

That partnership also means warping the young, blank slates of freshman minds through glitzy vending machines which, although new, gobble quarters like a goat in a tin-can graveyard … limiting the number of soda machines and the space within them so that alternative products cannot be distributed, as was possible under DP’s benevolent reign over this fair campus … not providing a fruit-juice alternative such as Minute Maid (a Coca-Cola product that is conspicuously absent) that has more than 5% of real fruit juice in its mixture … providing inconvenient plastic bottles that are not recyclable anywhere on your eco-aware campus … charging 50% more than conventional 12 oz. Dr. Peppers, rendering it impossible to buy a drink and a vending machine snack for just a dollar… and using the powerfully oppressive Coca-Cola trademark to bring about a cultural Armageddon down upon the unsuspecting student populace that we ever so dryly refer to as “customers,” much as the British tea exporters thought of those zany colonists in 18th century America before all of that revolution stuff “went down.”

By working together as evil adversaries, we can put an end to this Dr. Pepper rebellion and bring order to the galaxy.

A key benefit of our partnership is to ensure that happiness never returns to UNT for the next eight years. If for any reason the residents do not go along with our scheme, just call our discipline hotline at 800-COKE-SUX to arrange for a “service technician” to “persuade” them to think otherwise.

Again, welcome and thank you for your business.

Bruce Hall 50th Anniversary Drawing & Mural

Bruce Hall 50th Anniversary

Back in the spring of 1997, as part of Bruce Hall‘s 50th anniversary celebration, I drew a giant-sized poster that depicted some of the crazy stories I’d experienced during my four years there.

The poster was later framed and kept behind the front desk. I’m not sure what happened to the poster itself after I last saw it in August 2000, but a mural copy of it was painted onto the C200 wing sometime afterward.

Here are some notes behind what’s depicted in both the drawing and mural:

  • The “Bruce Hall” logo is obviously a homage to the orange engraved brick from the building’s exterior
  • Adam and Eve are the names of the bathrooms across from the front desk. They used to have exhaust fans like the ones pictured, until air conditioning was put in
  • Above Adam and Eve are the air conditioning units installed during the summer of 1994. They had a horrible habit of dripping, sometimes down on the top of units below
  • The kite flying out the window — that happened at some point my freshman year 1992, but not necessarily from that window
  • The cats along the rooftop are an homage to the feral cats that used to inhabit the Bruce sub-basement. They would enter the building through small vents at ground level in the courtyards. Later, the Feral Cat Rescue Association was started to serve their needs
  • The witch serving gruel in the cafeteria was a joke — nothing like that actually happened. Richard, the cafe manager during my time there, got on me hard for that (in a loving way)
  • The swamp outside the cafeteria kind of did happen. Before they built the patio that stands there now (sometime before Fall 1996), that area was a soupy mess every time it rained
  • The crane embedded in the side of the building happened — not as comically, but some construction vehicle did impact the building. I don’t remember exactly when
  • Wanda flying out of the attic…that one is obvious
  • The R.O.A.R. above the entrance is a reference to the secret society in Bruce Hall at the time. Shadowy hooded men would invade hall association meetings across campus and make comical threats against the hall presidents such as Brad Moseng
  • The Celtic Roach has been the unofficial symbol of Bruce Hall since it was conceived in 1993 by then-Treasurer and future-College Inn-RA Becky Watkins
  • The NTSTC emblem above the entrance was the name of UNT at the time Bruce Hall was constructed in 1946
  • The dual lights flanking the front door obviously weren’t radioactive — but at the time, they were the pale sodium vapor variety like you see on street lights. The radiation symbols are a comic exaggeration
  • The falling water balloons happened, some of them by my own hand
  • The “Vote Lenin ’92” graffiti was the first thing I ever saw the first day I was at Bruce Hall in August 1992. The doors were red back then, and eventually replaced and painted green
  • A dark cloud envelops the smokers sitting on the bench outside the entrance. They had a habit of putting their cigarette butts anywhere but the actual ash tray. It was a common punishment of Jim Casey’s and mine to make smokers pick them up. The middle smoker has lizard-like feet — this is a reference to Jesse Salinas, the longest Bruce resident I ever knew, who was known as Swamp Thing (or Swampy)
  • The fire extinguisher embedded in the front lawn occurred during rounds by ex-RA Dan Kinchen. He was walking along D400, and the window on the south end of the hall was wide open. He looked outside and saw the D400 fire extinguisher out there
  • The exorcism depicted in the third-floor window was rumored to have happened when I lived on C300
  • The chair embedded in the tree actually happened
  • The squirrel attacking the roof is a reference to the Red-Tailed Squirrel, a freak of nature that was larger than his fellow rodents and could leap from trees 12 feet apart. He was such a scourge that he scared away all the other squirrels. Phillip Bickell (a.k.a. Bad Dog) was a famous Bruce resident with Ausperger’s Syndrome; he had a fixation on all animals, and I often found my resident hunting around for the Red-Tailed Squirrel and the albino squirrel

I honestly think that’s all. 🙂